I have observed, over these many years, a darkness that is covering the world and how it is affecting the very fiber of our way of life. It is a darkness that is ever growing and filling the world with suspicion, hate, and an ever increasing uneasiness. I am going to cover just one of these areas that is being affected, in the hopes of addressing a grave sin that has taken hold of many Jews in Israel, and abroad.
Several scriptures, in the Tenach, speak about the leadership of Israel, and how throughout its history, is mocked by its own people, accused, and disrespected as a sign of a growing boldness by misguided Jews who choose rebellion instead of, by faith, trusting in G-d and his appointed, anointed leadership for Israel. This rebellious attitude has always plagued Israel and kept it from becoming fully what the L-rd has called her to be: a light to the Gentile nations!
This darkness is a spiritual mindset, and it is here today as it was long ago, as Israel struggles to become what G-d has called her to be! It is easy to have an opinion regarding Israel as a nation, her vast economy, or her politics in the Knesset, even the Israeli army, etc., etc. But my utmost concern is how Israel treats her spiritual leaders. I am not going to address the Gentile Church, for it has its own issues! But nevertheless, if this article speaks to Gentiles, then I am grateful. Israel has always had a love-hate relationship with its leaders! The difference is that up until recently, the spiritual and the physical leaders of Israel were always the Rabbis and the leaders in the Tabernacle/Temple, the Levites and priests, before the Temple was destroyed and our people scattered. Yes, Israel has had her Kings and Monarchs, but for the majority of the Jewish 4000 year history, the Rabbis directed the Jewish nation no matter where we were! Today Israel is a democracy, not a theocracy! Not just yet. Yet Rabbis still play a big role in the day-to-day decisions that Israel makes. The Prime Minister is the main leader of Israel. And he confers with the head Rabbis for direction and for deep counsel. But, it is the local Jewish congregation, that is what I am most deeply affected, even worried, by.
Human nature is human nature. Sin is sin. And that is why Jewish congregations need to follow the Torah, obey the commandments, keep the Sabbath, observe the Holy festivals, and revere the spiritual leaders of Israel. Among Messianics – wars, suspicion, doubt, usurping of spiritual authority, and splits plague the congregations. Reform and Conservative Judaism, though less in conflict, nevertheless, has a lot of difficulties with their board of trustees, and the local Rabbi. Issues of open conflict drive away potential Jewish membership, as there is a lot of in-house fighting! In Orthodox communities, and Orthodox Notzrim, though you will see much, much less because of the Rabbinical authority, still disrespect is always something that is there and has the potential to rear its ugly head.
In the last 20 years of our Jewish community-way-of-life congregations, if there has been rebellion, 95% of it has been from non-Jewish attenders, who were brought up in a Church environment where the potential for splits and open conflict was far more prevalent. Coupled with a lack of understanding of Rabbinical authority and the importance of Master-teacher/student relationship. “Master-teacher /student relationship” teaches a student or congregational member how to walk a Torah observant, Jewish way of life from an older, wiser, and more learned Rabbi.
What are signs for the potential of suspicion, doubt, or an offended or critical spirit from a disgruntled congregational member? First, you will see a person begin to murmur, or complain, against the structure or standards set up by the Rabbi himself. Second, differences of opinion cross over the line into challenging a Jewish Rabbi’s leadership instead of asking questions and having a teachable spirit. Third, when a person is being misled into challenging or even rebelling against G-d appointed/anointed Jewish leadership, you can always attribute that person’s behavior with their lack of devotion in obeying the commandments, and keeping themselves from getting contaminated by the world and its influence, or simply because they’re not mature in the things of G-d, so pride and ego stand in the way. Fourth, subordinate leadership, which is being trained by the head Rabbi to be servants to a Jewish community in whatever the Rabbi desires, is also learning how to serve, “as a servant”. The problem is that when you are elevating subordinate leadership to serve the Synagogue, sometimes the person or persons will run with limited knowledge, and allow themselves to be full of pride and arrogance, which brings conflict, and causes the sheep of a community to be confused, misled, and even begin to second guess the head Rabbi and his directives! Or, heaven forbid, rebel against the actual Rabbinical Authority itself!
It is the little things in the kingdom of haShem that add up! Many times, familiarity can breed contempt! A person can become so familiar with the headship of the synagogue that they begin to confuse the position of the Rabbi with his personality! They see the humanity of leadership, and loose respect with the G-d centered position that man was put into! Israel was warned many times to keep reverence and respect of its leaders in the forefront. When they did not, they suffered the penalty and the judgement of G-d’s displeasure! The bible says, “Judgement begins with the house of G-d first!” The house of G-d was the Temple, and its people, the Jewish people. If our people are to be a light to the nations, then what happens in the house comes first. We need to always check our hearts to make sure we are not being deceived by others through backbiting, gossip, or being disgruntled! 86% of secular Jews who choose to walk with G-d, were introduced to G-d by tender hearted, Torah observant Jews who “walked their talk”! Who also were in conformity with a local synagogue in following the rabbi’s Halachah, (righteous way of living)!
Jewish people change, not by clever, convincing arguments, but by seeing G-d’s community in action, a loving Jewish community who follow the Rabbi’s teaching, who, as a community, follow the commandments (mitvzot), keep Shabbat, obey the oral law, and observe all the Holy festivals. When we do this, without agenda, we truly will be a light to the nations, and then we will see the return of the Moshiach!
Think on these things,
Chief Rabbi. Yosef Hilbrant.